February 13, 2010

Personal Reflections On ICANN Nairobi

I'll probably be posting about this at greater length elsewhere...

The ICANN meeting in Nairobi seems to be attracting more publicity and debate than any other meeting in the last couple of years.


Because so many people are making noises about either attending OR not attending it.

I'm not attending. I'd love to be able to attend all the ICANN meetings, but I simply can't.

There are several reasons why I'm not attending and they're all inter-related.

To start with attending ICANN meetings is not cheap. Sure some people get funding from ICANN and 3rd parties to attend. I don't. In common with ANY business trip I have to weigh up the costs of attending with the benefits. The trip to the Seoul meeting, for example, was far from cheap. You have to factor in several things not least of them being the cost of flights and the hotels - and unfortunately ICANN meetings generally seem to end up being in hotels that cost about $200 / night (or more).

Security is another issue.
Nairobi was meant to be the venue of the ICANN meeting a couple of years ago, but they ended up relocating it to LA. The security threats in Nairobi have been a matter of concern for quite a few people, but they weren't really at the forefront until quite recently. Having said that when I mentioned Nairobi to my mother she was not happy. Not happy at all and since she doesn't normally worry about those kind of things, I'd take her concerns very seriously.
My business partner wasn't too happy about the idea either, so that's pretty much a clincher.

As a result of the genuine security concerns quite a few other people have decided against going.

Fewer attendees might be seen as positive in some quarters, but if you treat an ICANN meeting as a business event then fewer attendees will have a direct and tangible impact on the chances of recouping the costs via sales etc.,
Since the ICANN public meetings are where a lot of the various groups interact then fewer attendees will mean that a lot less actual progress will be made on existing issues.

But let's go back to the two key points:

  • Economics
  • Security

When you put them side by side it's pretty clear that it's not really a viable option for me to attend.

Of course there is always the option of ICANN moving its location or for various groups within ICANN to convene in a number of "hubs"

Ultimately everyone has to decide for themselves whether they should attend or not. I've decided not to, for my reasons, others have decided to go regardless. What irks me is when people try to make the entire "go - don't go" thing into a political and PR football.

If someone decides not to attend that is their call. Respect their decision.

If someone chose not to go because their wife was expecting, for example, there'd be no commentary. But choosing not to go because you or your dependants / relatives / co-workers etc., are concerned about your personal wellbeing shouldn't be an excuse for some people to get up on a soapbox and try to make out that they are somehow more superior and "better" by choosing to go.

I guess in some ways it's a reflection of the general attitude of people within the ICANN community. Mutual respect is sorely lacking in some quarters. People will pay "lip service" to it, but they just love the "politicking"

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